Learn Tips from Pharmacists on How to Streamline Patient Communication ::

Pharmacists are busier than ever, especially now, with the additional precautionary measures and control procedures they need to take because of the pandemic. Yet, amid all the tasks of running a pharmacy and dispensing medications, they still make time to counsel and educate patients, which is one of their most important duties.

Pharmacists have developed a variety of different techniques to improve their communication with patients. Here are a few of them.

Ways Pharmacists Ensure Effective Communication

The pharmacist will check with patients first to find out how they prefer to communicate—some like email, others text, others telephone, videoconference, or talking in-person.

The pharmacist will first introduce himself or herself, and then ask the patient if they have a few minutes to talk before beginning the conversation. This creates a good environment for communication. And some pharmacists will not talk with the patient unless the pharmacist has the person’s undivided attention. If the patient gets a phone call while the pharmacist is talking, the pharmacist will stop the conversation and politely tell the patient it will resume after the call.

Pharmacists will ask open-ended questions to facilitate communication. For example, instead of asking a question with just a yes or no answer like, “Do you take your medication in the morning?” the pharmacist will ask the person when they take their medication and why at that time.

The pharmacist will first question the patient to determine the extent of their knowledge about their condition and their medication. Even highly educated people sometimes have very little medical literacy and need things explained in very basic terms. The pharmacist needs to match their language and explanation to the level of the patient.

Some pharmacists set aside an area just for counseling patients to provide privacy. Patients may not feel comfortable talking about their condition and medications while standing in a cash register line.

If a patient has a more complicated condition, talking to a patient at length and greater detail is not always possible in a pharmacy. For that reason, some pharmacists provide patients with other resources to get more information, such as classes at a medical center, support groups, or reputable web sites.

Some pharmacists also practice writing down important information for patients, so they have something to refer to. Some pharmacies also put together fact sheets for patients with basic policy and procedural information for prescription refills, emergency supplies, payer coverage of medications, and other related information.

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